To kick off National Literacy Month, preschoolers can step into a world where words truly are the stars of the show. "WordWorld," debuting today on PBS KIDS(R) (check local listings), is a 3-D animated series funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education, which encourages three- to five-year-old children to become friends with words. The show makes preparing to read so much fun that kids will laugh out loud as they learn. "WordWorld" playfully brings words to life through a patent-pending methodology that embeds words into the objects they represent. It's an idea so simple yet powerful that parents can't help but ask: "Why didn't I think of that?" In each episode, children will join the ensemble cast of WordFriends(TM) -- Dog, Sheep, Frog, Duck, Pig and Ant -- as they explore their world of words. "WordWorld's" humorous storylines focus on age-appropriate social-emotional lessons while introducing preschoolers to key literacy-based skills, such as letter recognition and phonological awareness.
Created by Don Moody and Jacqueline Moody, with children's television veteran, Tina Peel, serving as executive vice president of production, education and research, and directed by Emmy(TM) Award winner Olexa Hewryk, 26 half-hour "WordWorld" episodes will air in the first season.
"'WordWorld' is an adventure series that makes words tangible by introducing preschoolers to a world of words that come alive right before their eyes," said Don Moody, founder and CEO of Word World, LLC. "The novelty of the show is that when a word is formed correctly, it morphs into the character or thing it represents, which makes learning to a read a totally new experience. Our goal is to help preschoolers prepare for reading by telling engaging stories that are fun, sparking their imaginations and fostering a love for words."
"WordWorld's" parent company Word World, LLC is part of the Ready To Learn Partnership (RTLP), a public-private consortium awarded a five-year, multi-million dollar grant by the U.S. Department of Education. Additional members of the consortium include Chicago PBS member station WTTW and the Michael Cohen Group, an international research firm responsible for formative and summative testing of the show.
"PBS is excited to extend its literacy-based content this fall with the introduction of 'WordWorld'," said Linda Simensky, senior director, PBS Children's Programming. "The characters and their humorous interactions will make learning fun for preschoolers."
Meet the WordFriends
"WordWorld" features a variety of characters called the WordFriends. Each WordFriend has a distinct personality that is easily relatable and endearing to preschoolers. For example, Duck is the silly WordFriend who often "quacks himself up." He thinks he knows everything, but as one of the younger WordFriends, Duck has a great deal to learn, and the audience often learns right along with him. On the other hand, Sheep is bashful and imaginative, loves to play pretend and will give the wool off her back to anyone in need. Through compelling and engaging storytelling, preschoolers will build friendships with Sheep, Duck, brainy Frog, lovable Dog, gregarious Pig and a host of other quirky characters.
Literacy on the Joke Line
Structured in the classic narrative mode, each "WordWorld" storyline imparts an age-appropriate social-emotional lesson in a fun and humorous way, such as the importance of sharing, learning to be patient and accepting differences in others, while also exposing viewers to a pre-reading skill such as sounding out letters in words, rhyming or print orientation. At the climax of each episode, the WordFriends have fun by singing the contagious "Build a Word" song as they combine the correct letters to form a word that solves the story's problem.
In each episode, humor abounds, such as when Pig eats all the pie he promised to his friends and is in comic dire straits until he eventually discovers the power of the letter "s" to turn "pie" into "pies." Thankfully, through this word morph, Pig makes plenty of pie to feed the gang. In another episode, Bear and Sheep break a "box" apart into letters and send the letter "o" rolling around WordWorld, resulting in an adventurous search for the runaway "o." When the "o" is finally recovered, the friends rejoice as they put the word "box" back together. By tying the literacy lesson into the dramatic climax of the story, "WordWorld" achieves a seamless balance of education and entertainment. We call it "yearning and learning."
The ABCs of Reading
According to the latest National Assessment of Education Progress, 68 percent of the nation's fourth graders are reading below proficiency, a trend that continues through high school. In response, the U.S. Department of Education's Department of Innovation partially funded the development of "WordWorld" to help get three- to five-year-olds ready to learn while reinforcing the idea that learning to read can be fun.
The show's curriculum is based on scientifically-based reading research including research from the National Reading Panel (NRP), which was assembled by Congress and is comprised of leading scientists in reading research, representatives from colleges of education, teachers, educational administrators and parents. The "WordWorld" curriculum draws from four skill sets critical to young children's emergent literacy and social-emotional development. Every storyline incorporates at least one skill from each of the following skill sets: print awareness; phonological sensitivity and letter knowledge; comprehension; self-awareness and socio-emotional skills.
The Michael Cohen Group conducted comprehensive research and testing of the show, including 15 formative research studies with approximately 1,000 children, teachers and parents. Ongoing research will continue to inform production and modifications of the show to ensure the program effectively keeps children engaged and entertained while teaching and reinforcing key literacy skills. Quantitative summative research about the efficacy of the show will begin in fall 2007.
About Word World, LLC
Word World, LLC, created by Don Moody, is a multi-platform media franchise with a focus on helping develop literacy skills among three- to five-year-olds. Through a first-of-its-kind, patent-pending learning tool, all "WordWorld" products embed words into images to enhance word recognition. "WordWorld," the new television show for preschoolers is partially funded by the U.S. Department of Education and is part of the Ready To Learn literacy initiative focused on helping children ages two to eight improve their reading skills. The Ready To Learn initiative is a partnership of the U.S. Department of Education, the Corporation of Public Broadcasting, PBS and the Ready To Learn Partnership. "WordWorld" debuts Sept. 3, 2007 on PBS KIDS and TVOntario. The TV series will be complemented by a Web site at pbskids.org and a line of DVDs, books, games and toys.
About PBS KIDS
PBS KIDS, for preschoolers, and PBS KIDS GO!, for early elementary school kids, are committed to providing the highest quality non-commercial content and learning environment for children across the country. Providing age-appropriate, diverse programming for kids, PBS KIDS and PBS KIDS GO! programs consistently earn more prestigious awards than any other broadcast or cable network. Only PBS KIDS and PBS KIDS GO! have earned the unanimous endorsement of parents, children, industry leaders and teachers. With additional PBS resources to complement its programming, including PBS KIDS online (pbskids.org), PBS KIDS GO! online (pbskidsgo.org), PBS Parents (pbsparents.org), PBS Teachers (pbs.org/teachers), PBS Ready To Learn services and literacy events across the country, PBS is providing the tools necessary for positive child development. PBS is a nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 355 public television stations, serving nearly 73 million people each week and reaching 99% of American homes.
About WTTW National Productions
WTTW National Productions is a premier producer and presenter of original, high-quality television programs for both public and commercial television broadcast. WTTW National Productions is a division of Window to the World Communications, Inc., the parent company of WTTW11 Chicago, the nation's most-watched public television station. For more than 50 years, WTTW11 and WTTW National Productions have introduced a wide array of ground-breaking television programming -- reflecting the world's rich and diverse arts and entertainment scene as well as education, politics, public affairs, business, and religion -- to a national audience. Its landmark innovative series and original productions include the critically-acclaimed performance showcases Soundstage and Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis; Grannies on Safari; CEO Exchange; and MEXICO--One Plate at a Time with Rick Bayless. WordWorld is the first of four children's properties to come from the Ready to Learn Partnership, a creative consortium that includes WTTW National Productions and Word World, LLC.
About the Michael Cohen Group
The Michael Cohen Group, LLC (MCG) is internationally recognized as a leader in innovative education, market, public opinion, media and evaluation research. MCG specializes in conducting studies with children and youth, their teachers, and their families in order to understand all social and psychic dimensions of young peoples' lives -- as students, as family members, as peers, as consumers. MCG evaluators, representing a variety of disciplines including education, child development, and media have earned the trust of clients such as Sesame Workshop, PBS, Disney, Nickelodeon, Girl Scouts of America USA, The European Commission, The World Bank, and the U.S. Department of Education
The content of this press release was developed under a Cooperative Agreement from the U.S. Department of Education. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.